Expert Peter Rosenberger shares his advice on how we can support the caregivers in our community
Peter Rosenberger has been the primary caregiver for his wife for nearly 30 years. Through the amputation of both of his wife's legs, 78 operations and $9 million in medical bills, Rosenberger has learned what it requires--physically, mentally and emotionally--to put the needs of another before himself.
The author of the book, Hope for the Caregiver, Rosenberger is an advocate for caregivers everywhere and seeks to encourage them during the tolling and often rewarding experience of caregiving. With the AARP estimating that more than 44 million people in America are caregivers, it's likely that there many caregivers in your community, and Rosenberger offers his advice on how you can help support them.
1) Acknowledge them.
Caregivers often fade into the background while they focus on the person in need. But caregivers have needs too. When you’re talking to a caregiver, Rosenberger says, "don’t give them the glib answer of, 'We’re going to pray for you.' The first way to help a caregiver is to look at them in the eye and say, 'I see you. And I see the magnitude of what you are carrying. And I hurt for you.' Start with that."
2) Make sure they're getting medical care.
The caregiver's health impacts both the caregiver and the person they're caring for. It is pertinent that caregivers are in the best possible physical and emotional health. Rosenberger says to ask caregivers if they see a doctor regularly. "If they start hemming and hawing about why they can’t, ask if you can support a trained professional to take care of the person in need so the caregiver can go see the doctor." And not just for physical health. Rosenberger says it's important caregivers get monthly counseling with a licensed counselor.
"If you need a trained professional to step in and provide care while the caregiver's at the doctor, that's about $100. That’s not a lot of money, if several people in the community can pitch in to pay the cost, a few times a year," he says. "And If they don’t need a skilled care worker, church members and friends can ask to sit with the caregiver's loved one."
3) Provide basic, practical help.
"Think practically," Rosenberger advises those who want to help. When you're at the grocery store, call the caregiver and ask, "Do you need some milk? What can I get you?" Rosenberger also suggests asking about sending over licensed and insured repairmen to check on the water heater, offering to pay for a gutter-cleaning service or other household needs. Something as simple as going to the store can become a hassle for a caregiver, Rosenberger says, and it's a relief to not have to worry about doing those small, basic things.
In Exodus 17:11, during the battle against the Amalekites, Moses helped the Israelites to win by lifting his arms up to Heaven. When Moses' arms grew weary, his brother Aaron and his friend Hur held each of his arms up and steady to ensure a victory for the Israelites. Rosenberger says, "It’s my responsibility to take care of my wife. But there are people around me who can help hold my arms up."
"This is what it looks like as the church. We have an opportunity to reflect that great love of our Savior in the ways that we’re caring for our caregivers."